|A rare kind of book review|
All the Nobel Economists were talking about it! Robert Solow (1987 Nobel) said "Thomas Piketty Is Right" and Paul Krugman (2008 Nobel) explained "Why We're in a New Gilded Age."
There was lots more. It was a big deal. Just the other day, Slate said, "Thomas Piketty Won 2014."
|"Honest Money" circa 1896|
Dollar Mark Hanna on Wall Street
by Silverton's Homer Davenport
Though in some ways it is but a footnote, it is telling, also, that in the background of the Davenport cartoon above, the lynched figures represent people who would never have been lynched in real life: the reality behind the symbol has been erased.
Increasingly, people are bringing the reality into the foreground. With new books in the news like The Empire of Cotton and The Half has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, and the nation-wide attention to the untimely deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner, we are looking more and more at our legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and ways our current systems and institutions remain unjust.
That was 2014.
Maybe 2015 will bring a larger examination of a different set of systems and institutions and look at the ways we do or do not morally assess systems properly, systems and institutions where individual agency is not always so clearly analyzed or considered and might not even be the best thing to analyze.
Pope Francis on the Environment
The thing outside of Salem I am most looking forward to in 2015 is what looks like a forthcoming Encyclical by Pope Francis on the Environment and Climate Change.
|Catholics await an Encyclical on the Environment|
Catholics working on environmental issues and climate change in the U.S. are eagerly awaiting the encyclical and have spent much of the last year preparing for it.You might remember Barbara Rossing's talks at St. Mark's on climate change. It would be great if the encyclical also changed the way we talk about and debate climate change and the way it impacts our current systems and institutions in 2015: Maybe in a year writers and critics will be able to say, "Pope Francis won 2015."
"There's never been an encyclical just on the environment. It's clear something like this is needed to move, especially policymakers, but even the church," said Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant.
"I've always said we need to recover ancient traditions that we've always had but we just forgot. About how we're supposed to care for creation. About how St. Francis said it's all kin, we're all connected together somehow. 'Brother Sun, Sister Moon,'" he said.
You don't have to be Catholic to think that could be a very fine thing.
Meanwhile, in Salem
So can we bring this back to Salem?
Maybe we can.
Over at N3B, their year-end review prompted an interesting exchange, and a supporter of the bridge writes:
I hope to see all of the same folks in this picture protesting the next housing development to be built on the West side of the river...the population on this side of the river continues to grow and whether you like it or not, another bridge will have to be built so why not be part of the solution.And this is an important point.
If we are serious about transportation constraints across the river, we need to think seriously about whether we want policies that promote further growth in West Salem. We can either have real system development charges and tolls that properly incorporate costs so they are not externalized, hidden, and shunted off to others by means of indirect subsidies; or, if we aren't willing to use market forces, by regulations and zoning we can start curbing growth in West Salem and redirecting it to more walkable and more centrally located places. Either way, if we really think that connections across the river are constrained, then it follows that growth fits better in places other than West Salem, and we should want policies consistent with this.
The bridge debate isn't just about an expensive piece of infrastructure. It's about systems and land-use also.
Similarly, over at On the Way, Bonnie Hull writes about Howard Hall and the Blind School in "Another Hospital Disaster...Urban Logging."
|Way more parking lot than building|
In fact, the problems at the Blind School rhyme in many ways with the problems downtown.
If the Hospital saw an easy path to charging for visitor parking and for employee permits, they would have a much easier time redeploying buildings and letting more tree, grass, and landscape remain.
Maybe 2015 can be a year when we connect more of the dots and think more about systems, and not just the component and atomic units in isolation. Sometimes in order to break down a complex problem, you have to think of its atomic parts; but other times, that atomic scale hides the real problem and real solutions.